This last week we had our very first Easter worship gathering at Mosaic.
To be honest, weeks before I had already decided in my mind that I really didn't like everything that comes with Easter Sunday. People bring all types of expectations with them on Easter. Among other things, they expect your best shot. And for those of us who are missionally minded, we know that people will come on Easter who aren't normally there – meaning a great opportunity for ministry. There is a lot of pressure for pastors to deliver.
As the big day approached, so did my blood pressure. I dug in, visited and revisited familiar passages, prayed with a renewed sense of urgency, and wrote and rewrote my message – even opted to scrap half of it 1am early Easter morning.
This past week I had the privelege of attending the Exponential church planting conference with my wife, Megan, down in Orlando. During the first main session, Francis Chan apparently made some comments about Rob Bell that were pointed and of a personal nature. (Unfortunately, I wasn't there to hear it since I had unknowingly led my wife to slaughter that morning as we sat through high pressure sales pitch for a time share. After saying "no" no fewer than 12 times to 4 reps over the course of 3+ hours, we both agreed it was not nearly worth the $100 off universal studios tickets. You live, your learn.)
But by the time Megan and I made it to the conference site, the place was already buzzing about Francis' talk. He had struck a chord. By mid afternoon, Francis Chan was a trending topic on Twitter. But those who only sat through the main session or followed the twitter frenzy missed the best part: it wasn't Francis' comment, it was his response to making it. Immediately afterwards, I attended a breakout session with Francis that was supposed to be about prayer and leadership. Instead, a visibly distrought Francis Chan sat down and told us that he didn't have it in him to get up and give another message. What followed was a humble and painful apology for his "flippant comment" he had made about Rob Bell. He went on to explain that although he passoinately disagreed with Rob on some things, and although Rob knows that and the two have been corresponding and will be getting together soon, it was not fair of him to make a comment like that.
I have been a fan of Francis Chan's for a while. I continue to learn from him as a man, as a Christian, and as a pastor. I can certainly say the same thing about Rob Bell. And so I can't tell you how encouraged I was to finally see a Christian, and an influential Christian leader no less, apolgoize for letting his emotions get the best of him and making unfair, personal attacking comments about Rob. Listen, it is okay to judge a man's conclusions. In fact, it is wise to do so. But it is not okay to judge a man's motives for reaching those conclusions. That is God's job. Francis Chan modeled humility and repentance by owning his mistake and asking for forgiveness.
He went first. Is it your turn?
It’s official, Mosaic has launched! Sunday marked the long awaited launch of Mosaic with our first weekly worship gathering. We knew that people were excited about what God was preparing to do in and through this new community, but we were unprepared for the 250+ people who would join us on Sunday! It was an incredible morning in which many months of prayer and preparation all came together.
The best part of the morning wasn’t number of people there, or the fact that people were so excited to be there that we could hardly get them to sit down, or that people were still hanging out over an hour after the worship gathering was over, or how incredible the Mosaic launch team was all morning, or even the beautiful sound of a new church worshiping Jesus together for the first time. Personally, the best part for me (Aaron) was all of stories we heard of God moving in the lives of people.
Sunday morning we saw several people commit their lives to Christ for the first time! We are so excited to see these people impacted for eternity and to see them begin to step into what God has for them! We saw several others recommit their lives to Christ, marking what we pray will be the beginning of a season of renewed passion and purpose in their journey with Christ. We also saw a number of people who have never been connected to a church before tell us they have accepted the invitation to join a conversation about what it means to follow Christ and who now consider Mosaic their new home. That is what it is all about!
(Originally posted at http://www.mosaiclincoln.org/weve-launched/)
It was in the fall of that year in the course of a conversation with a close friend that I voiced for the very first time that I sensed God might be leading us to plant a church. These were words were astonishing even for me to hear spoken aloud after spending much of my life avoiding organized religion and it's proponents. Even after committing my life to Christ at the age of sixteen, I had continued to avoid "church people" at all costs.
But our conversation that day had been sparked by a defining moment in my life that had taken place earlier that year. On a fateful winter night in Minneapolis, Christ met me on the balcony of an old Presbyterian church and He said something that I will never forget. In a time of worship and prayer, Jesus essentially said, "Aaron, you have been seeking to love me while hating on my bride, and I am not done with her yet."
Since then, God has had me on a journey of character and calling in which He has been slowly and, at times, painfully stripping me of my cynicism. He has been teaching me how to be a creator rather than just a consumer, an infusor of hope rather than a defuser of hope, a servant first and a leader second, an artist in a world so often full of critics.
Nearly six years, three states, two schools and an internship later, we now find ourselves just five days away from seeing that calling placed on our lives so long ago become a reality. I am excited. I am terrified. I am everything inbetween. We stand at the precipice, and while many voices in our heads tell us to turn back, that it'll never work, that it is destined for failure, our souls tell us otherwise as God turns our attention to His promises, encouraging us to be strong and courageous, beckoning us to jump.
For those reading this, I thank you for following us on this journey and for your many kind words and prayers along the way. And now I ask you to continue to pray for us, Mosaic, and the city of Lincoln. The resistance has been substantial. Ephesians 6:12 has never been so real to us as it has been in this season. Sickness, heartbreak, injuries, ongoing ailments, job loss, technical issues, delayed shipments, lost keys, damaged equipment, and deeply struggling relationships have all been a part of just this past week alone.
In a way, however, it only excites me further for what is to come. The darkness is trembling. I can feel it. Something significant is afoot. The Enemy shakes with fear and outrage. Frantically, he reinforces strongholds, shouting lies amongst us, desperately trying to slow down what God is preparing to do in our city, of which I know Mosaic is to be a part. He knows as well as I that he stands powerless before the King of Kings and His gospel.
It won't be perfect. It'll be messy. It won't all go according to plan. Few things ever do. It'll be hard. And at times, it'll involve much pain and struggle and sacrifice. But to join God in His work to see people filled with the life and freedom and healing that is in Christ, it is well worth all of it. It is a movement that God has been in for thousands of years.
And it cannot be stopped.
"Therefore, in the present case, I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” - Acts 5:38-39
Yesterday I took a personal retreat to quiet myself and reconnect with my soul and Creator (something I have not done a very good job of over the past few weeks). During my time, I came across these words by Thomas Merton and they really resonated with me. Perhaps they will with you too.
"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone." - Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude
I know a number of regular readers of this blog have joined along the way to follow us on our journey in planting Mosaic Lincoln. Many of you have dropped me notes along the way encouraging us in this endeavor and to you, I want to sincerely thank you. For over a year, this has been the go-to place for all updates regarding Mosaic Lincoln. However, that is changing. I wanted to let you know that while I will continue to blog here on topics such as leadership, ministry and church planting, the go-to place for all Mosaic updates will be the Mosaic blog on our new website launched just last week. We are posting updates there every couple of days so you can really stay up on all that is happening in and through Mosaic (including a pretty BIG announcement today!) Thanks to all of you who have joined the conversation along the way – I count you as friends and look forward to the journey that lies before us!
Today we launched the Mosaic Lincoln website! This may sound funny to say, but as a pastor, it is really easy for me to get website envy. You know what I'm talking about? I see websites like that of Mars Hill Church in Seattle or Elevation in Charlotte and I have repeatedly tell myself, "Thou shall not covet," "Thou shall not covet," "Thou shall not covet…"
However, part of the beauty of church planting is that it forces you to discern between what is necessary and what is not right from the get-go. Without a super sized budget to get all of the things I might otherwise be tempted to spend money on, we are forced instead to get creative. And let me tell you, it is amazing what is possible when a group of people get prayerfully creative!
I am proud of our new website! Not just because I think it is sharp, clean and immersed with helpful and engaging media, but because it was built almost entirely with free, online tools that are available to anyone, anywhere! Rather than dropping a lot of money on a website, we were forced to get creative. And thanks largely in part to the hard work and creativity of our Associate Pastor, Kevin, the result was a great website that hardly cost us anything out of pocket! I wonder what else would be possible if we resisted the urge to spend and instead, opted to get prayerfully creative in our lives and ministries!
If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you know that for most of this last year we and a wonderful team of people have been in the process of planting a new church in Lincoln, NE called Mosaic Lincoln. Mosaic is a community committed to live by faith, be known by love, and be a voice of hope in our city. (You can learn more about it here.)
It has been a beautiful journey so far, and the best is yet to come as we excitedly prepare to launch publicly in several short weeks! As we prepare to take this great leap of faith, we need your help!
This Christmas season, you could greatly help us launch this new church by purchasing a gift for Mosaic from one of our "Wish Lists." Below you will find two lists of various gear that would greatly empower us a new church to reach our city with the gospel. The first list you'll find below is a Target registry with various items we need for our children's ministry. This area is so important as we want to invest in the next generation, and an excellent children's ministry opens up all types of doors to minister to parents who also need Christ!
Please consider purchasing an item by clicking on the photo below.
The second list you'll find below is our BIG item wish list with larger, more expensive items. Some of these items you may be able to meet yourself. Perhaps you might consider giving a year end gift towards one of these. I also would ask you to consider bringing them to your pastor and church leaders. Many churches have all types of things they no longer use that are just sitting in storage, things that could go a long ways towards helping a church plant like us get off the ground! Your church may also have unused budget money in accounts for things like missions, outreach, church planting, etc that will reset after the first of the year if it is not used. You never know unless you ask!
Here is Mosaic's BIG item "Wish List":
A small sound system for kids ministry. It doesn't have to be flashy, just a simple system that can be toted around each week. If someone was looking to purchase one for us, a great example would be the Fender Passport. ($500)
Coffeemaker. Alright, we'll admit, we really like good coffee. And apparently a few other people do too. One might dare to ask, is it even possible to plant a church without coffee? Probably, but we don't intend to find out. ($241.31)
Trailer Dolly. All of our Sunday equipment is stored in a very big trailer that gets parked each week in a rather tight storage garage. We need a trailer dolly to enable us to walk the trailer in and out each week without causing damage to vehicles or the storage garage. ($189.95)
Projector & Screen(s). We have a need for a projector & screen for Mosaic Kids. These can be previously used and any size. As long as they are in good working condition, we'll put them to good use! We also have a need for one of these and one of these for our main service. ($892.57 and $721.89)
An iPulpit. Ok, this one certainly is NOT a need. File this one into "I'm a geek and would really love to have one of these if someone really wanted to give us one" category. You gotta admit, that's one killer pulpit.:) ($750)
SO HERE IS WHAT WE WOULD ASK YOU TO DO:
1. Consider purchasing a wish list item from our Target registry. (Items range from $1.89 to $119.99.)
2. Share this article with friends and family, personally asking them to consider donating an item.
3. Contact your pastor and other church leaders you know asking them to consider donating stored equipment or unused budget money to help us or another church plant spread the gospel!
If you will join us in this, it would go a long ways towards helping us launch this new work! Of course, all gifts are 100% tax deductible and if you or your church would like to give towards any of these items in particular, we will make sure it goes to the proper place. You can give via Paypal or check here. If you would like to designate your gift to a specific need, you can do that in the "comments" section at checkout or by emailing me at aaron[at]mosaiclincoln[dot]com. Gift items can be dropped or mailed to 3917 Everett Street, Lincoln, NE 68506.
Thank you for your part in helping us launch Mosaic! Merry Christmas!
This past week I was talking to a coworker about what it means to follow Christ. He had committed his life to Christ a couple years ago (he was actually led to Christ by Mosaic Lincoln’s new creative director) but had fallen away from faith until just recently. He is very much a new, young believer. As we talked about the perseverance it takes to follow Christ he shared with me a statistic his pastor had told him regarding how many people fall away from Christ after making an initial decision to follow Him.
At that moment, another coworker who had been listening in leaned over and said, “There is probably a reason for that.” I knew what was coming. This person has a well known reputation around work for being angry and argumentative about all things philosophical. To be honest, he comes off like a pretty miserable person and he seems to enjoy making others miserable. Everyone there knows I am a pastor, so I had been wondering when this guy was going to take a swing at me. Now was apparently his time.
“And what reason would that be?”, I asked, bracing myself.
“It’s a sham!”, he shouted. “The whole thing is a sham. It is no wonder people don’t stick with it, they get smart and figure out organized religion is nothing but a hoax!” Continue Reading…